A Public Service Fit for the Times and for the Future

Work even more closely with the public, and embrace technology to come up with fresh solutions – these were the points made by Mr Peter Ong, Head, Civil Service, to mark the start of Public Service Week 2016. The following is an abridged version of Mr Ong’s note to public officers, on how the Public Service can adapt itself to the moment, and for the future.

We embarked on a new term of government this year, with the opening of Parliament in January. We have a full and exciting agenda ahead. Our key priorities are to:

i. keep Singapore safe and secure;
ii. renew our economy and provide opportunities for all;
iii. transform our urban landscape;
iv. foster a more caring society; and
v. partner Singaporeans in nation-building.

We have completed Budget 2016 and the Committee of Supply debates, and resources will be channelled to policies and programmes that support these themes. We look forward to working on these priorities, and are committed to open sharing, engagement and partnership with Singaporeans to build a better future together.


We have already, through a number of agencies, been working more closely with the community as a partner to deliver better outcomes. You would have heard of how Pioneer Generation Ambassadors, who are resident volunteers, have been visiting our Pioneers to help them understand the services available to them.


At the Enabling Village at Lengkok Bahru, SG Enable and the Ministry of Social and Family Development have jointly worked to bring together foundations, voluntary welfare organisations and corporates to fund and co-create programmes which train and hire persons with disabilities. These are outcomes that Government would not have been able to achieve alone.


Digital technology today has enabled us to be connected in a pervasive way, and this is set to increase further in future. This connectivity, both between government agencies and citizens, and also across agencies, will allow us to re-imagine and deliver public services in ways that are not conceivable before. Agencies are already starting to leverage technology to enhance service delivery. By re-designing the “e-Service for Foreign Domestic Worker Renewal and Cancellation” so that it is more user-centric, the Ministry of Manpower received positive customer experience feedback and also saw the number of queries drop by 25%.


The new MyInfo service by the Infocomm Media Development Authority and the Ministry of Finance will automatically fill in online government forms with citizens’ personal data that have been consolidated from various agencies, so that citizens spend less time filling out forms, and are also less prone to errors. Let us learn from these examples, and see how else we can push further on the digital government front, to enable us to work more efficiently and serve Singaporeans better.

While we are headed in the right direction, let us ask ourselves: what else can we do, as a Public Service, to be ready for the challenges of the future? Your leaders and I believe that the answer to this question lies with all of us – we have to co-own our future. This is why we have launched PSfuture, a platform for us to share our aspirations and desired Public Service of the future, through open conversations with officers across the Service.

This Public Service Week, we recognise every public officer who has put in effort to improve how we work internally, as well as with our citizens, for a better future for Singapore and Singaporeans. I hope the PSfuture dialogues will inspire a spirit of closer collaboration and co-creation among our officers to nurture a future-ready Public Service we can all be proud of for a long, long time.

Happy Public Service Week! 

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CREATING OUR FUTURE TOGETHER: Look out for more coverage of Public Service Week 2016.
    May 18, 2016
    Peter Ong
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